In keeping with the tradition of cheap Thrift Store Scores, I managed to land yet another treasure this weekend at the stinky thrift shop. I was a bit apprehensive about going on a Saturday, thinking that all the good stuff would have already been pillaged. I combated this by arriving at the store as it opened. This allowed me first pick of all the goodies I could get my grubby little hands on. I was, to say the least rewarded.
I rooted around a bit in an old laundry basket full of used aquarium parts, because I saw something copper and shiny. I had thought that perhaps it was an aquarium heater. What do I need with an aquarium heater? Well it might make for a good addition to a bioreactor if I every planned on building one. No really this is how I think. Hoarder in training I suppose. Anyway, when I grabbed the shiny copper rod I noticed it was attached to what I thought was an A/C cord for power. Instead I found it attached to a Radio Shack project box. WTF?!? I untangled the device and pulled it out and was amazed to see that I was holding The Original Parasite Zapper! SCORE! I found an authentic piece of modern day quackery. It did not matter what it cost, I had to have it and I had to crack it open to see how it worked. The device is pictured below. Please, pay no attention to the Reeses Fastbreak wrapper on the floor. <sigh> I am a weak weak man.
As I was walked up to the cash register, I noticed that the device was not very heavy at all. In fact it felt like the project box portion of the device was empty. There were directions for its use printed on the back that stated that you needed to hold the electrodes with wet hands. It also stated, as you can see in the picture, that the “Unit is generating when red light is on”. This got the gears in my mind moving and I envisioned that the device was little more than a saltwater battery with a couple copper electrodes packed with salt water and an iron bar in the middle that just needed a human dialectic and a flick of the switch to make the red light go on. “What a rip off!”, I thought. Regardless I was still going to purchase it. It was only two dollars, and I figured that the laugh I got from thinking about all the “imposter parasite zappers” running around for this company to label their device an “original parasite zapper” was alone worth two dollars of my hard earned cash.
When I approached the register the checkout lady picked up the device, looked at it, and then looked at me. Her mouth went a little crooked and she closed one eye while peering at me with the other one. I could tell that she was sizing me up and wondering what sort of parasites plagued my bodily systems. I merely looked back and smiled. I paid my two dollars and walked out to the car. I sat in the car for a moment and decided to do some research on my iPhone. First I looked up the area code for the phone number printed on the unit. The area code served British Columbia in Canada and Alaska. I then did a trace route on the domain name and sure enough it was located in British Columbia. Apparently there was a Canuck, assembling and peddling these things, to clueless and desperate Americans.
I did some further research later in the day and emailed the address on the unit requesting more information on the product. I also found a website for the product. I was shocked to see that the device cost $110.00 . Wow, for that price it should zap all the parasites in a ten mile radius!
So what exactly does this thing do?
Well the website claims that the gentle pulses from the device, approximately 30KHz with a 50% duty cycle, stun parasites that hide in your body. This immediately conjured a picture of little green monsters hiding behind organs in my body. It continued to explain that once stunned the parasites come out of hiding and that the body’s immune system takes over. The white blood cells attack it, kill it and then dispose of it in the person’s urine.
This reminded me of another such system that was created shortly after the turn of the 20th century by Royal Raymond Rife who treated illness using Cathode Rays. Hmm I guess old ideas die hard. Incidentally the book I read this in “LostScience” is a good read for folks who enjoy reading about long forgotten inventions. Check it out.
If you read through the zapper's website you’ll see that it claims that there are parasites in nearly everything and that they are the reason for just about any ailment. You can purchase this unit along with any cleansing solutions they might have available, for a hefty price. Can you REALLY put a price on your health?
OK, enough with all of the reading and research. I was bursting at the seams waiting around to give this thing a test. I popped the unit open and installed a 9 Volt battery. OK good, it takes a battery and there was some circuitry inside. It will definitely do something more than just lighting an LED. I then reviewed the instructions of operation on the back of the unit. Alright, number one clearly tells me that there will be some electrocution involved.
After installing the battery I took some steel wool to the electrodes and shined them up good. I am looking for maximum conduction here.
The website suggested that instead of wetting your hands, you could wrap a paper towel soaked in salt water around the electrode and just hold those. I prepared a solution and soaked some paper towels. I also used an oven timer to measure out the suggested length of time for one session.
OK so I triggered the timer and then flicked the power switch and away I went.
I waited a few minutes and didn’t feel any different or notice anything other than the passage of time happening. So I squeezed the electrodes a little harder and tried to concentrate on getting all the nasties in my body out of hiding.
Still nothing happened, so right before the end of the session I did what any buffoon in a similar situation would do. I tasted one of the electrodes. OK, NOW there was something. It was a mild electrical shock exactly as if you were putting your tongue on a 9 volt battery. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. I tasted it a couple more times just to be sure that I was getting electrocuted and not having a stroke, then put an end to the experiment.
When I opened the unit up to install the battery the first thing I noticed was a piece of sponge covering the circuit board. I had to use a razor to cut away the portion that was glued to the side of the enclosure to reveal what was underneath. When I saw the IC that was being used I actually rolled my eyes. The 555 Timer was the driving IC. I am no stranger to this IC, in fact I have been using them, on and off (no pun intended) for the past 15 years. It would appear that the mysterious parasite zapping circuitry was little more than an astable multivirbrator. This is basically a fancy word for “feedback loop”. It works like a little switch that turns on and off repeatedly, based on the values of the components used. From what I could gather, by looking at the circuit, I could see two values of resistors being used. Both of which were metal film resistors which are inherently more stables and precise. It appeared that the values were 1K Ohm and 3.9K Ohm.
Using test equipment to further analysis of the unit, revealed that the device does indeed produce pulses between 5 and 6 volts at a frequency of 33.911 KHz. This is within around 10% tolerance of what was stated on the website. On closer inspection of the waveform I was able to determine the on and off times of the pulses. The on time was 16 uS and the off time was 13 uS. This is again within around 10% tolerance of what was stated on the website. These two values will prove important below.
As stated earlier, the basic astable multivibrator is a circuit that pulses on and off at a rate determined by the components that make up the circuit. Like most things in the Universe this rate can be determined with a little math. Below is a circuit taken from a Radio Shack Engineer’s Mini-Notebook. This is an excellent series of books written by Forest Mims. I highly recommend these books for people trying to learn electronics. They are simple, easy to read and best of all, Radio Shack carries almost all the parts used in the books.
In the diagram below, t1 and t2 are the on and off times of the pulses. These timing figures can be calculated with the equations listed below. As you can see the two resistors and the capacitor are factored in. Combining the equations allows the calculation of frequency. So from our analysis above I will need to take the figures I measured for t1 and t2 and work backwards to see what components go where and what the value of the capacitor is.
Assuming that the circuit was indeed an astable multivibrator I could then use the schematic to do some further analysis. Taking an ohmmeter I can read the resistance on pins 7 and 8 of the 555 Timer to get the value of R1, then I can read take a reading on pins 7 and 2 to get the value of R2. Having these values will allow me to confirm the on and off pulse times. My readings were as follows, R1 970 Ohms, R2 3.88K Ohms. These values are within 3% tolerance of the values I read earlier.
Now that I have all my values from the analysis, it’s time to make some confirmations.
First I wanted to be sure that my values for T1 and T2 were correct. I did this by getting the period for 34.911 KHz. This is accomplished but taking the reciprocal of the frequency, which is 28.6 uS. Since the period of the frequency is the total of adding both times I added the values of T1 and T2 together to get 29 uS. This is close enough for me. So now, I was sure that my values for T1 and T2 were correct.
With the correct timing values confirmed, I can now use a modified form of the t1 and t2 equations to find the values of the capacitor.
1. T1 = .693 X (R1 + R2) X C1 solving for C1 will look like this C1 = T1 / .693 X (R1 + R2)
C1 = .000013 / .693 X (970 + 3880) -> C1 = .0038 uF
2. T2 = .693 X R2 X C1 solving for C1 will look like this C1 = T2 / .693 X R2
C1 = .000016 / .693 X 3880 -> C1 = .0059 uF
So, as you can see in the calculations above we come up with two different values for C1, however these values are not too far off from one another. If I plug each of these capacitance values into the frequency equations we come up with a range of 27,925 Hz and 43,357 Hz. Now that seems a larger margin of error. And this can be, from erroneous analysis of the ratio of T1 to T2.
I inspected the circuit again and was able to read the value of C1 from the unit. The capacitor was marked with “473” which translates to .0047 uF. If we plug that into out equation we see that the frequency comes out to be 35,055 Hz which is MUCH closer to the frequency I observed with my equipment.
There is really not too much to hack with this circuit. It’s pretty simple to build and it’s not like the technology is a closely guarded trade secret. For the most part you can just follow the diagram above, plugging in the values I provided if you wish to build your own. In the time it took to analyze and piece this blog entry together, the company that manufactures these devices got back to me, and sent an electronic copy of a book called “The Cure For All Diseases”, by Dr. Hulda Clark. I was actually able to find a copy of the PDF online if you wish to look through this. Page 22 outlines the circuit and gives all the parts and diagrams. I reviewed the parts list and my values were dead on the money.
Another triumph of the thrift store score providing me with endless hours of entertainment for less than five dollars!